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Woman in fighter's cockpit: Pulling the biggest G-force Featured

  • Monday, Oct 26 2015

//Mukesh Kaushik// 

This is the biggest G-force any fighter may have ever pulled—the Gender force it was. 

Exactly after 24 years since their induction in the Indian Air Force, cockpit of the fighter jet will be thrown open for women pilots in June 2017, realising a long cherished dream for more than 100 women pilots, who had been thinking to roar into sky with a swing in a fighter plane.

The government today announced a concrete plan for women pilots to induct them into fighter stream.

"The first women pilots would be selected from the batch, which is presently undergoing flying training at Air Force Academy," an official announcement said, adding that after successful completion of ab-initio training, they would be commissioned in the fighter stream in June, 2016.

And after completion of training, women pilots would undergo advance training for one year and enter a fighter cockpit by June, 2017.

Incidentally, it was in June 1993 that women Officers were first inducted in the Air Force, Short Service Commissioned Officers in the non- technical ground duty branches on an experimental basis for a period of five years.

Consequently, women officers were inducted into the Aeronautical Engineering and Flying Branch. Currently, women are inducted as Short Service Commissioned Officers in all branches of Indian Air Force except Fighters.

The streams where Women Officers are inducted include Flying branch (Transport and Helicopter streams), Technical branch (aircraft systems, ground weapons) and non-Technical branches (Administration, Logistics, Accounts, Air Traffic Control, Fighter Control, Education, Meteorology, Medical and Dental).

In Flying Branch, women are mainly employed as transport pilots in the An-32, Avro and Donier fleets.

A woman pilot is employed on the IL-76 aircraft as well. They were also being planned for employment in IL-76, Embraer and Boeing fleets.

So far as women pilots in Helicopter stream is concerned, they are employed in the Chetak/Cheetah fleets.

Women are also employed as navigators in the An-32 and Avro aircraft.

In Technical Branches women are employed in all technical competencies in the IAF including aircraft systems, Surface-to-Air weapon systems and other aerial and ground based systems.

The ab-initio training, which is being imparted to this year's batch of women officers at Air Force Academy, Hyderabad, will take them to fighter stream.

The Basic Flying training is also imparted in this Academy. Officers of all branches of IAF except Medical are inducted at AFA for ab-initio training. Officer development is the primary objective of the Academy.

The unique feature of the Air Force Academy is that the trainees of all branches of IAF undergo the training together under one roof. The training curriculum is so designed that it ensures no concession/discrimination is given to any branch or gender.

During the Flying Training the upcoming women fighters would undergo Pre-Flying training for 22 weeks and join State-I Pilots Course along with the passed out graduates of national Defence academy (NDA) for next 24 weeks on Kiran Mk 1 aircraft.

Presently, after successful completion of Stage-I, 16 the women trainees are bifurcated into Helicopter and Transport streams and sent to HTS and AF Stn Yelahanka respectively for Stage-II training for next 24 weeks before they are commissioned into Flying branch of IAF.

All Aeronautical Engineering branch officers are inducted at AFA for initial 22 weeks of ab-initio training and then sent to AFTC, Bangalore for their advanced training for one year.

The job-oriented specialist training for all non-technical branches of the IAF, viz Administration, Logistics, Accounts, and Education is conducted at AFA for 48 weeks. The Stage-I training of Meteorology branch also conducted for initial 24 weeks and then the trainees are sent to Air Force Administrative College, Coimbatore for Stage-II training for 24 weeks.

The training for ATC officers is conducted at ATCOTE. In addition to the training of ATC officers of the IAF, this establishment also trains controllers from the Indian Army, Indian Navy, Indian Coast Guard, Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) and officers from friendly foreign countries.

To a question whether there are any special training modules, if any, for women officers, a Defence Ministry official said, "At Air Force Academy, the lady Flight Cadets undergo sessions of rigorous training shoulder to shoulder with their male counterparts, with an aim to transform them from fledging flight cadets into a worthy Air Warrior and an officer.

"The training curriculum is common for both male and lady cadets and includes all facet of training, needed for them to become a combatant soldier. During the day time, they together with their male counterparts undergo training on physical fitness and parade followed by classes at various faculties of professional excellence.

''In the evening, various sports activities are conducted for them. During the course of their training, they are imbibed with various Officer Like Qualities (OLQ), importantly including the ones on morality and ethics," he said.

 

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